Guest Post by Laura Briggs (Talk of the Town #42)

Welcome back to #TalkoftheTown, a weekly link-up I am co-hosting with Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. We’d love you to share your book related blog posts with us. Please visit my Talk of the Town page if you are unsure of how a link-up works. We are looking forward to reading your blog posts.

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I am so pleased to be welcoming Laura Briggs to the blog today. Laura’s Christmas release, A Christmas in Cornwall, is out now. Laura has kindly written a guest post about Cornwall for my blog readers. Cornwall is somewhere I always wanted to visit, but have never gotten round to doing so. Oh well, one day for sure!

Five Things I Learned (and Love) About Cornwall
(Guest Post by Laura Briggs)

I love England. And I love Cornwall. Sadly, however, I’ve only been to England once (on a school trip, actually), and wasn’t lucky enough to visit Cornwall during my stay. So when I began writing about it in A WEDDING IN CORNWALL, I realized all my knowledge of it came from ‘Doc Martin’ and the hit series ‘Poldark’! So I did a little … then a lot more …research while writing, and learned more about one of England’s most beautiful and most unique counties, full of culture and history. So here are five of the ‘fun facts’ I learned that found their way into A WEDDING IN CORNWALL, A CHRISTMAS IN CORNWALL, and the upcoming third book A COTTAGE IN CORNWALL.

#5  Heath — One of Cornwall’s Native Plants

Heath is as quintessentially English as the moors … but I had always pictured it in THE SECRET GARDEN’s Yorkshire world, and never knew that it was one of Cornwall’s native, rugged flora, nor that it was protected. But I learned all this and more when I wrote the first cliffside encounter between Julianne and Matt. Cornwall is full of beautiful wildflowers, so choosing a plant was hard, but I chose heath because it seemed like such a perfect representation of Cornwall’s character. And, maybe, a little bit perfect as a representation of Julianne herself!

#4 The Cliffs

The coasts of Cornwall are breathtaking. Even if you’ve only seen pictures, like I have, the beauty of its shores can really be mind-blowing. Until I began this book, I had only a vague idea (Doc Martin, remember?) so much of A WEDDING IN CORNWALL’s coastal beauty was originally inspired by other parts of England…but when I began visiting blogs and websites by Cornwall’s natives and visitors, the Cornish reality began to take form in my head. The view of the shore and the sea factors into every story somehow, and feels almost like another story character to me now. I even named the manor house in honor of it, in fact (the original name — that’s another story).

#3 Oggies

Meat pies are a Cornish specialty, and residents have very decided opinions on what constitutes a quality ‘oggie,’ I learned! I tried to describe their favorite tradition as best I could when writing the scene in Charlotte’s shop, and it definitely made my mouth water as much as Julianne’s did. The only thing better than reading Cornish opinions on English pasties is watching pasties being cooked on The Great British Bake Off.

#2 The Cornish Tongue

Ah, Cornish! Not an easy language, as I learned from a little research. It has ties to other languages — it has spelling difficulties that make one’s head spin and pronunciations that my American tongue simply can’t attempt. But I made my best attempt to include a little of it in the story because Cornwall just isn’t the same without its language, as I’ve come to understand. Village names come from it, boats and landmarks are called by its tongue, and local phrases and slang are derived from it. In A WEDDING IN CORNWALL, the village name is taken from two common Cornish/Old Welsh words (the spelling is a little imperfect, as I’ve since learned!) Julianne and Matt visit the famous Lowarth Helegan gardens, whose name means ‘Willow Tree,’ and even Rosemoor Cottage has a reference point in Cornish.

#1 Troyls

It’s a running joke in the story — Julianne’s confusion over the traditional Cornish evening of music and dance, which comes up yet again in A CHRISTMAS IN CORNWALL. To me, a troyl seems like the Cornish version of an Irish ceili, although I’ve also learned that it served as a traditional festival or celebration at the end of the fishing season in different parts of Cornwall. And you even sense a little kinship with Scotland in the fact that kilts are sometimes worn by the men (hence Julianne’s blush over indulging in a little mental picture of Matt in attendance).

From the ‘Lizard’ to the flavor saffron, I’ve learned far more about Cornwall than the ‘fun facts’ I just named from the first book…and what I’ve learned since then found its way into the Christmas sequel, and into the third book I’m releasing in January (where I learned a little more about a famous Cornish tourist spot, and about springtime in Cornwall). I hope the world they helped create will help readers escape to a little part of Cornwall, even if they’re as far away from it as I am!

About Laura

Laura Briggs’ first stories were written in crayon about a rooster named Henry–but she was pretty young at the time, so it’s understandable. She eventually graduated to writing more complex plot lines and characters and writing her stories on a laptop. She tends to write stories with a romance theme, but as a reader she has a soft spot for mysteries, including those by Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. She also enjoys books by Jane Austen, Anne Tyler, Amy Tan, and too many others to name. In her free time, she likes to experiment with new recipes and tries to landscape her yard (a never-ending project).

Author Website: http://paperdollwrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter Account: http://bit.ly/1ME9ivJ

Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/1JjeMoI

Thank you so much for visiting today, Laura.

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Win a copy of Debbie Johnson’s Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe (Talk of the Town #41)

Welcome back to #TalkoftheTown, a weekly link-up I am co-hosting with Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. We’d love you to share your book related blog posts with us. Please visit my Talk of the Town page if you are unsure of how a link-up works. We are looking forward to reading your blog posts.

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I read and reviewed Debbie Johnson’s Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe a few weeks back and absolutely loved it. The lovely people at HarperImpulse are kindly offering one lucky blog reader the chance to win their own copy of this festive book. All you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter link below (UK only, I am afraid). The giveaway will be live for one week. The prize will be sent to the lucky winner directly from Harper Collins Headquarters. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Autumn Leaves

I am not the biggest fan of Autumn and Winter (apart from Christmas obviously), but I do like the changing Autumn leaves. The colours are stunning and if it is cold but sunny (definitely emphasis on sunny here!) walking on/in the crunchy leaves can be so much fun.

Last weekend we spent pretty much one whole afternoon raking up the leaves in our garden (I swear you couldn’t even see the grass anymore). Our little girl had so much fun helping her daddy with the leaves. I am not sure how much help she actually was in the end, but both had a brilliant time.

I only made it outside for a few minutes as I was still suffering from an acute sinusitis (I am starting to feel better now though – finally!). Because I am nearly 33 weeks pregnant, there was not a lot of medication I could take to soothe the pain. I took the odd paracetamol, but tried to limit them as much as possible.

Here are a few pictures I took at the weekend.

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 I am linking this post with Heledd at Running in Lavender for #MyCapturedMoment.

Children’s Book Review: There’s Not One by Jennifer Higgie (Talk of the Town #40)

Welcome back to #TalkoftheTown, a weekly link-up I am co-hosting with Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. We’d love you to share your book related blog posts with us. Please visit my Talk of the Town page if you are unsure of how a link-up works. We are looking forward to reading your blog posts.

For this week’s Talk of the Town, I am sharing our thoughts on the children’s book There’s Not One, a review I have published a few days ago.

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OUR THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK

There’s Not One is without a doubt a standout picture book. It is very different to other picture books, yet strangely alluring. The storyline itself and also the illustrations are rather abstract which our little girl absolutely loved. It is very simply written so that young readers can actually read the story without much help from an adult. There’s Not One is very diverse and looks at different things around us (from baked beans to leaves and even stars).

To be honest, it took me quite a while to get used to the book as I was expecting a quite ordinary children’s book. However, there is not much ordinary about this book at all – which by no means is a negative! Our daughter loves and was intrigued by There’s Not One from the beginning on.

If you are looking for a slightly different and abstract children’s book which is engaging the curious minds of your little ones, that There’s Not One is certainly the right choice for you. 

Disclosure: We received a free copy of this book, but all thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.


My Reading Habits (Talk of the Town #39)

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Welcome back to #TalkoftheTown, a weekly link-up I am co-hosting with Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. We’d love you to share your book related blog posts with us. Please visit my Talk of the Town page if you are unsure of how a link-up works. We are looking forward to reading your blog posts.

For this week’s Talk of the Town, I had a slightly different post planned. I originally wanted to share my review of Julia Williams’ newest release It’s A Wonderful Life. I am hugely excited for this title and did a little squeal when it arrived in the post. I started the first few chapters, but was then struck by a horrific cold that turned into a chronic sinusitis. With me being 31 weeks pregnant basically means that I cannot take much medication (well, none to be fair – apart from a paracetamol here and there) to ease the pain. I am hoping daily that my symptoms will improve, but no luck so far. Right – enough with the moaning, but this basically means that I haven’t read anymore pages from Julia’s fantastic book as I cannot concentrate on anything at the moment. However, this gave me the idea of sharing my reading habits with you. Illness taken aside, the amount of books I read per month (even per week) is certainly never consistent.

Quite often, I will take a little reading break when I read a book that had a huge impact on me (that can either be a thought-provoking novel or a book that left a huge impression on me). I often find, that I need to take a little break to properly “digest” the book.

I also feel that a read a little more in the winter than in the summer. Nothing is more comfortable than cuddling up on the sofa to my husband drinking a hot chocolate and indulging in a fantastic novel.

My most favourite place to read? Well, that’s a rather hard one! In the summer time it would definitely be on a sunlounger in the garden. During the colder month, I love to read in the bath (this is where paperbacks come in more handy than my kindle –  I am the most clumsiest person on the planet, and I am sure the kindle would probably take a bath before I even had the change to read a whole chapter). My third preferred reading space is my bed – especially after a hard day at work, I find it super relaxing to read a few chapters before I turn the light off and fall asleep.

What are your reading habits?

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Me and Mine: A Family Project: October 2016

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At the beginning of the year, I was planning to write a Me and Mine post every month. I love the idea of taking a monthly family portrait. We have plenty of pictures of our little girl, but not many that show our whole family. For the first few months, I stuck to the plan and we took family pictures each month, but as soon as summer arrived and our lives got a whole lot busier, taking family pictures literally went out of the window. We could never find the perfect opportunity or simply just forgot.

A couple of weekends ago, we set out on a lovely family walk to find some conkers. We couldn’t actually locate any, but we ended up being able to take some nice family pictures on the way. The weather was just beautiful (I seriously wouldn’t mind if all of autumn/winter had these lovely temperatures J) and everyone was in a fantastic mood.

October was quite a busy and fun-packed month for us. The biggest change was obviously our little girl starting primary school at the end of September. She loves big school and I couldn’t be any prouder of her (although I miss her terribly when she is gone all day).

And then it was already time for her first half-term break. We really made the most of this week and spent so much family quality time together. Luckily my husband and I both had the complete week off work, which meant so much to us. We met up with our daughter’s old nursery friends, carved pumpkins, met the Gruffalo, went to a farm and installed a new garden shed (which our little girl is currently using as a playhouse – not quite the plan, but it provides her with endless fun J).

I definitely want to try and make a bit more of an effort with these family pictures, especially when we will soon be a family of four. We cannot wait for our newest arrival to complete our family. I’ve mentioned it before, but this pregnancy is going so fast – only a few more weeks left, before I start maternity leave – yay!

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The Me and Mine Project

#AVerySecretBlogTour (Guest Post by Katerina Diamond)

As soon as a very intriguing email from publisher Avon landed in my inbox, asking whether I wanted to be part of #AVerySecretBlogTour, I said “yes” without any hesitation. Avon does come up with some brilliant ideas for blog tours and I thought this newest one was just fantastic! Let me tell you a bit more about this blog tour. First of all, it is for Katerina Diamond’s newest release, The Secret. The book itself is not a secret, but furthermore the bloggers taking part in this blog tour are. The identity of the bloggers involved is kept a secret until the day it is their turn on the tour. The night before, Avon will leave some hints as to who the blogger might be… 

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The Secret Garden

(Guest Post by Katerina Diamond)

When I was a child I was given two books for Christmas. They were navy blue, leather-bound and had little colourful illustrations on a few of the pages. I absolutely loved these books and read them from cover to cover so many times; the excitement of turning the page and finding a picture was something that never got old. To this day I still remember the pictures. One of the books was Little Women and the other was The Secret Garden. 

The idea of The Secret Garden is something that still draws me in: a garden that is hidden away from the rest of the world, with a concealed entrance and a beautiful rope swing hanging from a tree branch – that fed the romantic in me almost as much as Jo March and her handsome German Professor Fritz Bhaer in Little Women. Over the years we lost a lot of our belongings and so those books disappeared and I was quite bereft.

The Secret Garden was a dark book, with so much darkness that I remember feeling like it wasn’t meant for children to read in places, and after doing a little research I found out it wasn’t originally a children’s book but was actually a serial in a magazine. The protagonist is quite a dislikeable little girl who learns to grow and become herself within the confines of a secret garden. The idea being that spending time alone and unwatched would uncover her true self, allowing her to grow into a person she had never known she was. I think it was quite a powerful lesson when a lot of stories were telling us that money or love were the answer to all of our problems.

Recently I was in a local second hand shop and I saw those books I’d had – exactly the same ones – and I bought them again. I even wondered if they were my own copies, they were so familiar. I read them as soon as I got them home, the familiarity of the pictures bringing back so many memories (of being alone reading!). They sit on my bookshelf among my Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes books. We all have those favourite books from childhood, and those two were mine.

 

Book Review: Never Again by Nicky Clifford (Talk of the Town #38)

Welcome back to #TalkoftheTown, a weekly link-up I am co-hosting with Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. We’d love you to share your book related blog posts with us. Please visit my Talk of the Town page if you are unsure of how a link-up works. We are looking forward to reading your blog posts.

For this week’s Talk of the Town I am sharing my thoughts on the debut novel Never Again by Nicky Clifford.

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MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK

Never Again is Nicky Clifford’s debut novel. I really love reading books by new authors. Finding out how they approach and create their storylines is always like a fresh breath of air.

Nicky Clifford certainly does not disappoint. Set (mainly) in a hotel in the Swiss Alps, this novel explores the interrelationship between two characters, their background stories and the troubles (past and future) they are dealing with and have to come to terms with. There is also a wide array of supporting characters that each contribute their bit to the well crafted storyline.

Harriet leaves her old job behind to start afresh as hotel staff in Switzerland, but can she forget about all her worries or will her past catch up with her? Crime writer Philippe escapes to said Swiss hotel to find some piece and quiet to work on his new book. As soon as these two characters meet, they both know there lives will be turned upside down. Although Philippe has sworn off women, will Harriet be able to find a way into his heart?

Never Again is a clever and intriguing romantic novel. I loved that neither of the characters are perfect, but are going on quite a journey in order to deal with their difficult lives.

This book is definitely a debut worth reading and I’ll eagerly be awaiting Nicky’s next novel.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel, but all opinions are entirely my own.

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Our first half-term week

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I know I sound like a broken record, but I am still getting used to the idea that my little girl is not so little anymore, but in fact is now attending “big school”. She is doing so well and I am so incredibly proud of her, but ever since she did start primary school, I was secretly looking forward to half-term. Having her around for the whole week would be wonderful. 

Luckily my husband and I both managed to get this week off work and we had made quite a few plans for half-term. So far, we’ve had a brilliant time! We’ve been out and about, have met up with some of her old nursery friends (most of them are not attending the same primary school as she is), met the Gruffalo and had a brilliant time at Drusillas Park. For the rest of the week we still plan to do some pumpkin carving (wish us luck!) and visit a farm – fingers crossed the weather stays as lovely as it has been the last few days. 

We also had the 28 week midwife appointment to look forward to. Hearing baby’s heartbeat and the midwife telling us that everything looks fine so far is so reassuring! We cannot wait to welcome this tiny addition to our family in only a few short months.

Here are a few pictures of our first half-term week so far.

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She is pretending to be a scary witch on this picture…

 I am linking this post with Heledd at Running in Lavender for #MyCapturedMoment.

Children’s Book Review: The Sheep that Saved Christmas (Talk of the Town #37)

Welcome back to #TalkoftheTown, a weekly link-up I am co-hosting with Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. We’d love you to share your book related blog posts with us. Please visit my Talk of the Town page if you are unsure of how a link-up works. We are looking forward to reading your blog posts.

For this week’s Talk of the Town, I am sharing our thoughts on the children’s book The Sheep that Saved Christmas.

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I know it’s still only October and some might think it might be too early for Christmassy books – not my family though :-). We discovered it the other day at The Works (they had a fantastic deal on a variety of children’s book) and couldn’t help ourselves, but to buy it.

Since then, we’ve read the story a few times as a bedtime read for our little girl and we all really enjoy this book. The heroine in this book is a little sheep who loves Christmas. All of her friend are fed up by the sheep’s constant Christmas talk and decide to buy her a ticket to the North pole to see Santa as an early Christmas present.

Extremely excited,the little sheep gets on the first flight out there. Things don’t go completely to plan, but in the end it is this little sheep that saves Christmas.

The story is really sweet and relatively unique, I thought. Contrary to most children Christmas books in which an animal of some sorts saves Christmas it will usually always be my means of acting as one of Santa’s reindeer – but not in this story.

If there is one thing I’d criticise about this book, it would the font it is written in. I really struggled the first few times to decipher all of the words.

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